Damascus Gate (Stretch Variation III) (Frank Stella)

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Saw this big thing at the now gone Frank Stella retrospective at the Whitney. Like in much of Stella’s work, the energy in Damascus Gate (Stretch Variation III) (1970) comes from the taught lines and the inversion of shapes. What’s special here is the almost-touching of the geometric figures, the way, viewed close up, the black background shoots between them to take up pictorial place there as part of the foreground, while viewed from a distance, creating just enough space for the figures to constellate alongside each other inside the space of the long, shaped canvas. The figures are broken into segments that hold together. Professional critics almost all note the easy decorative and even corporate cast to Stella’s Minimalist paintings, only to then go on to complain about the incoherence that beset the gigantic aluminum machines that jump off the wall to explode that tradition, starting, I think, in the 1980s. Looking at things like Damascus Gate in retrospect and with no real stake in the art game, I enjoy the retro bravura.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish though and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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One Response to Damascus Gate (Stretch Variation III) (Frank Stella)

  1. dmf says:

    scrolling down the page here to see the images came close to animating them and I must say they are more engaging when in motion.

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